JUDGES AT the Fiesta-Val Competition and Adjudication in Williamsburg, Va., were stunned to discover that students in River Hill High School's Concert Choir, Madrigals, Orchestra, Symphonic Band, and Jazz Band had played together for only six months.
When they realized that there were no seniors in the ensembles from the school in Clarksville, they were speechless.
Eighty-nine students from the fledgling school took to the road last weekend and returned to campus with a spate of trophies and plaques.
River Hill's Symphonic Band, directed by Steve Wampler, received a rating of excellent and placed second in the Division IV Concert Band category. Wampler also directed the Jazz Band, which rated excellent and placed second among Division III Jazz Bands.
River Hill's Concert Choir -- under the direction of Betsy Graff -- received a superior rating and placed first among Division IV Mixed Choirs. Graff also directed the Madrigal Singers who took the music festival by storm, with a superior rating, first in Division IV Chamber or Madrigal Choirs and first overall in the same category.
Rosemary Lather directed the school's Orchestra to a superior rating, a first in Division IV Orchestras and a first in overall Orchestras.
Three River Hill musicians and the orchestra's violin section received recognition. Freshman trumpeter Jonathan Cox received the outstanding brass soloist award for jazz band. Junior Melynda McBeth received the outstanding string soloist award for her work on violin. Chanu Rhee received an award as the outstanding choir accompanist. River Hill's violin section received the outstanding string section award at the festival.
Principal Scott Pfeifer said, "I am so proud of these kids. Not only did they play their hearts out and win many awards at the festival, they handled themselves so well. They really set a tone for River Hill's music trips.
"Our students formed one of the most spirited bunches at the festival," he said. "Our entire community can be very proud with how our students performed under competitive conditions."
Music at Glenelg
Glenelg High School's choral department won nine awards in the North American Music Festivals held in Virginia Beach April 10, 11 and 12.
Under the direction of Nancy Buckel, the Women's Choir won first place in its division and earned a superior rating. The Men's Choir earned an excellent rating. The Mixed Choir also won first in its Division with a superior rating.
Judges named Glenelg's Madrigal Choir most outstanding, and Glenelg was named most outstanding school in the choral category.
"The students worked very hard this year," Buckel said. "Their awards reflect the quality of their work. I'm very proud of all of them."
Glenelg High School students, parents, and teachers will gather at 1 p.m. Sunday at Glenelg United Methodist Church to remember teacher Trish Rayeski who died recently in an automobile accident.
If you knew Rayeski and would like to remember her Sunday, you are invited to join the Glenelg School community at the church on Burnt Woods Road in Glenelg.
Glenelg High School's Booster Club donated a flowering cherry tree to the school in Rayeski's honor. Assistant Principal Linda Wise reports that school officials will plant the tree in the school courtyard.
The school has established a memorial fund in Rayeski's honor. It will provide a scholarship each year to a graduating senior. To contribute, you may send a check to the Trish Rayeski Memorial Fund, Glenelg High School, 14025 Burnt Woods Road, Glenelg 21737.
Top art teacher
River Hill High School's art teacher Marc Coates will be honored at a luncheon Tuesday at Savage Mill. Coates is the Howard County Arts Educator of the Year.
Middle school Shakespeare
Glenwood Middle School students graced the stage of the Folger Shakespeare Library April 8 to perform in the annual Student Shakespeare Festival. They and other school groups performed scenes with the theme of mercy from "Romeo and Juliet," "The Taming of the Shrew," "A Merchant of Venice," and "A Midsummer Night's Dream."
Glenwood English teachers Michael Ahr, Robin Driscoll and BethGallagher directed the troupe.
Student actors included Matt Anderson, Christina Anthony, Kirby Brooks, Meghan Clark, Anne Clarke, Gregg Dehn, Annie Driscoll, Alan Gross, Lindsay Harmon, Ashley Haynes, Chris Lockard, Beth Loveland, Candace Pfefferkorn, Crystal Porter, David Potocek, Sabrina Putro, Kristina Schwarz, Margo Seibert, Elizabeth Shields, Lesley Spence, Chrissy Spindler, Mike Stecker and Eileen Wagner. Staci Wingate was stage manager.
Each year, eighth graders at Glenwood Middle School look forward to an end-of-middle-school dance. Parent volunteers transform the cafeteria into a ballroom.
Students spend part of a school day dancing in groups and pairs to recorded music. Prizes, lunch and dress-up clothes add to the festivities.